Athletes aren't just known for their stellar performance in their sports anymore. Many of them turn into instant celebrities, which means their every move is scrutinized. You would think most of them would take extra precautions when it comes to their vices, considering children and adults alike look up to them as role models. But, many of them choose to live a lifestyle that not only leads to disappointment for their fans, but to the demise of their careers. Below are some of the most beloved athletes whose bad choices ruined their prosperous careers.
1. Shawne Merriman
Drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft, Merriman quickly became known as one of the quickest outside linebackers in football. He has 39.5 career sacks in his first 43 NFL games, 189 tackles and was the 2005 Defensive Rookie of the Year. He was also selected to 3 Pro Bowls. But in 2006 he was given a 4 game suspension for testing positive for an anabolic steroid. His suspension led to the NFL ruling that no one who has tested positive for steroids can be selected to the Pro Bowl or given any performance awards in the year they test positive.
2. Jose Canseco
Drafted in the 15th round of the 1982 MLB draft, Canseco was known for his power. He had 462 home runs in his 16 year career but is better known for coming out and admitting to taking steroids. He published a tell-all book, which chronicled his steroid use and mentioned that it was a big problem in major league baseball.
3. Rafael Palmeiro
Palmeiro was drafted in the 1st round of the 1985 MLB draft and, over his 20 year career, had 3,020 hits and 569 home runs. He is one of four players in history to be a member of both the 3,000 hits and 500 home run clubs. But in 2005 Palmeiro appeared at a Congressional hearing on steroids after being accused of using performance enhancing drugs. He denied ever using steroids but was suspended for 10 games for testing positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol.
4. Ben Johnson
This Canadian sprinter was one of the top competitors in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, winning two bronze medals in the 100m and 4X100m Relay in the 1984 games. He was considered a national hero at the time, setting consecutive 100m World Records at the 1987 World Championships and 1988 Summer Olympics. But on September 27, just three days after winning the 1988 Olympic Gold medal, he tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol and was stripped of his gold medal and 1987 World Championship title.
5. Floyd Landis
Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, despite the fact he was considered a dark horse in the cycling race. Shortly after, it was announced that he tested positive for a high amount of the hormone testosterone, a performance enhancing drug. He was stripped of his Tour de France title and dismissed from his professional cycling team. It was reported that he had three times the amount of natural testosterone in his body.
6. Barry Bonds
Considered one of the best major league baseball payers in the world, Bonds holds the record for the most career home runs with 762. He was voted to 14 All-Star games, has 7 MVP awards and 8 Gold Glove Awards. But in 2003, he became part of a steroid scandal when Greg Anderson of BALCO was indicted by the federal grand jury and charged with supplying anabolic steroids to athletes. Bonds declared his innocence but he was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges in 2007.
7. Alex Rodriguez
Considered one of the best all around baseball payers of all time, Rodriguez is the youngest player to ever reach 500 home runs. He is a 12 time All-Star player with a batting average of .306 and has 3 MVP awards. But in 2009, he admitted to using banned anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs during the 2001 to 2003 seasons. Because the MLB didn't have a steroid policy in effect until the 2004 season, Rodriguez was not subject to punishment.
8. Marion Jones
This USA track star has won numerous medals in international competitions and 5 medals at the 2000 Olympic Games. But in 2007 she admitted to using anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs before the 2000 Olympics. She was stripped of all her medals. She admitted to lying to friends, the press and two grand juries about her steroid use. She was suspended from competition for two years and retired in 2007. She was also arrested and given a six month prison term.
9. Ray Rice
This well-known NFL star found himself in trouble recently after he was caught on camera abusing his wife. The video evidence, which showed him dragging his unconscious wife out of an elevator, was too overwhelming for the public, who has been unforgiving. He is known more now as an abuser than for his talents on the football field.
10. Mike Tyson
Tyson was at the top of his game before being convicted of sexual assault in 1992. He served a three year prison term. Although he returned to boxing after prison he never regained the status of best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
11. Oscar Pistorius
After winning gold medals at the Paralypmics, Pistorius stunned all by making the South African Olympics team, being the first runner with prosthetic legs. He was considered a true icon but was recently arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. He claimed it was an accident and that he mistook her for an intruder. He was convicted and imprisoned.
12. Tonya Harding
Considered on of the best and skilled figure skaters, Harding is known today for her crazy behaviour at the 1994 Olympic Games when she was accused of helping her ex-husband attack skater Nancy Kerrigan.
13. Aaron Hernandez
Hernandez had a promising career with the Patriots but in 2013 he was arrested for killing his friend Odin Lloyd. He was released from the Patriots and was found guilty of first degree murder.
14. Lance Armstrong
Armstrong, who was praised for beating cancer and coming back to win more Tour de France races, went from being the most loved athlete to the most hated. Rumours had always swirled about his use of performance-enhancing drugs but it wasn’t until he finally admitted on television to using them that the world was convinced.